New complex houses facilities for both seniors and pre-schoolers

This is the first purpose-built facility that integrates inter-generational facilities in one site. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - At the newly opened St John's-St Margaret's Village (SJSM Village), which has a nursing home, senior care centre and pre-school, seniors and pre-schoolers get to take part in activities together.

The SJSM Village is a complex comprising St John's-St Margaret's Nursing Home, St Andrew's Senior Care (Dover), Little Seeds Preschool (St John's-St Margaret's), and St John's-St Margaret's Church.

It is the first purpose-built facility that integrates inter-generational facilities in one site, said Mr Larry Choi, chairman of Project Spring-Winter, the church's community service project.

Mr Choi said: "We needed to intensify the use of the land, and we were inspired by a passage in the Bible that captures a picture of the elderly and young children being and playing together. That's how we came up with the idea for the village.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the SJSM Village on Wednesday, said the senior care centre and nursing home will help seniors in the community age in place, as well as play an active role in promoting active ageing.

"Active ageing helps seniors remain mobile and delay the onset of illness. While these seniors may need more assistance with their day-to-day activities, they, too, wish to continue to lead active and meaningful lives," Mr Masagos said.

Also present at the opening ceremony was Right Reverend Dr Titus Chung, bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Singapore.

He said: "The cross-generational nature of the facility echoes the same character of Singapore society. It is our hope that it will inspire others to build such facilities in future."

Built at a cost of $60 million, the village occupies 1.39ha and took nine years to be built, from conception to completion, said Mr Choi.

He added that there is one other similar facility in Singapore - the St Joseph's Home in Jurong - but it was originally a 400-bed nursing home. An infantcare and childcare centre was added to the premises in 2017 to foster interaction between the elderly residents and young children.

Mr Choi said his team "went all over the world" and found two places - in Tokyo and Seattle - where such a concept was already in operation.

"The elderly there benefited from their interaction with young children, and likewise, the children were more accepting of the elderly in society."

SJSM Village's nursing home took in its first resident in July last year, while the pre-school began enrolment in January and moved to its current location in April.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli watching seniors participate in a music activity at St John's-St Margaret's Nursing Home. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Ms Cara Lee, deputy director of the Anglican Preschool Services' early childhood development centres, said activities such as morning walks and craft-making sessions allow seniors and pre-schoolers to naturally engage with one another.

"The (Covid-19) pandemic limited inter-generational mingling as we couldn't go into the nursing home and they could not leave.

"(But) the seniors and children were able to jointly celebrate National Day last month with pledge recitals and singing of National Day songs. By next January, we are looking to conduct weekly in-person sessions and invite family members to participate."

Madam Nancy Lim, 79, an SJSM Nursing Home resident, said she is looking forward to interacting with children from the pre-school when the inter-generational activities begin.

The retired chambermaid, who moved into the nursing home after her husband died last year, said: "I'd like to play and talk to the children, and teach them what I know, how to keep the place tidy, and to do exercises with them."

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